A Lamp On A Stand


‘He said to them, ‘Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.’ Mark 4:21-23

Mark isn’t the only one who recorded this teaching of Christ, Luke does too. Luke 8:16-18.

Jesus had just emphasised the concealment of His teachings using parables, Mark 4:11-12, but this reference to the lamp shows that the concealment will end. Our Lord has just been speaking the Parable of the Sower and the disciples ask Him for an explanation, which He gives point by point.

I’m pretty sure the disciples were feeling pretty good about themselves after hearing Him tell them that He was hiding His truth from the masses while privately helping them to understand it, Mark 4:11.

‘Inside information’ can be a powerful thing, but it can also be dangerous, 1 Corinthians 8:1, more importantly, knowledge brings with it responsibility, and this is what Jesus is dealing with in these verses.

Jesus is talking to His disciples, and it’s an everyday illustration He uses. Night is coming, and the small house is in getting dark, and then the master of the house takes and trims the lamp and brings it in.

What does he do with it?

Does he put it under a bowl, which would hide the light? Does he hide it under the bed, which would dim the light? Or does he put it on the lampstand, which would display the light for all? He could do any of these, but the real purpose is to light the house.

It is very important that we understand what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is the light and His word of the kingdom is light. And because Jesus is the Word, I think we can safely say that the lamp here is the Word of God, just like the seed in the previous parable, Psalm 119:105.

Jesus is saying you don’t take a lamp and light it and put it under the bed or put it under a bowl. The whole purpose of having the lamp is to put it on the lampstand and let it shine. He’s saying that God hasn’t revealed to them these incredible truths about Himself in order for them to hide them.

Just as natural light illuminates the darkness and enables us to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God’s kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the Gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

The whole purpose of a lamp is simply to produce light and so obviously it’s always placed in a position which helps it accomplish its purpose. In other words, placing a lamp under a bowl or under a bed defeats the purpose of the lamp in the first place. They exist simply to bring light, in this case, light to men.

Jesus taught and warned against hiding a lit lamp on many occasions but notice how many different places he mentions where a lit lamp shouldn’t be put in a jar, under a bed, Luke 8:16, under a bowl, Mark 4:21 / Matthew 5:15, in a cellar, Luke 11:33.

It’s clear that Jesus is making an application to the Parable of the Sower, Mark 4:1-20, and He’s saying that the preaching of the Gospel will bring to light the true nature of the hearts of everyone who hears it, Mark 4:19.

Some commentators believe there is a connection between the things which hide the light and the thorns which choke out the word. They believe that the clay jar stands for the worries of this world. The bowl stands for wealth, and the bed and a place, which is the cellar, stand for desires.

The Stand

Now according to all those references the lamp shouldn’t be hidden but placed on a stand, but who or what is the stand?

‘The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.’ Revelation 1:20

In other words, the lamp which is lit is the Christian and their lamp should be displayed on the stand, which is in the church. But we’ve not just to be lights in our meeting place, we need to be lights of the world, Matthew 5:14-16.

The purpose of light is to reveal everything which is present in the house. It’s the light that both enlightens and brings to light. John 3:17-18 / John 5:34 / John 6:40 / John 12:48. Those who hear will be revealed to have open hearts and those who reject the word of God will be revealed to have hardened hearts.

The secrets of all people shall be made evident on judgement day. People must understand and respond to what they hear, they must be like the good soil, Mark 4:8, that grew and produced a multiplying crop.

Where does the moon get its light from? How does it shine?

The moon doesn’t give off any light in and of itself, it simply reflects the light from the sun. We know that Jesus is the light of the world, John 8:12 and as Christians, our light is a reflection of His light, John 1:4-5.

Jesus Christ is the light and He revealed God and made Him known. He brought the character and the truth of God to all who believed in Him, John 1:9.

It’s through Jesus Christ that the true knowledge of God is made known. He brought the light and revealed the character and person of God. Jesus, Himself is the light of the world, John 8:12.

‘The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.’ Revelation 21:23

Christians don’t produce the light, but like the moon that reflects the light of the sun, we too reflect the light of His indwelling life. Christians are supposed to display the character of God, that’s why we were called in the first place, 1 Peter 2:9 / Ephesians 5:8.


While Christians are light, the world is darkness. This is the term used to describe the lost condition. John tells us that there is no darkness in God, 1 John 1:5, which means that there is no sin, no moral question marks, and no blame in even the slightest degree. He uses the word ‘darkness’ as an alternative word for the world and the unregenerate condition, 1 John 2:8-9.

Our Lord uses the same word to describe the whole world in rebellion against God, John 3:19. His saving work is the only way to be delivered from this darkness. John 12:46.

What does darkness do?

Darkness impairs vision, we can’t see clearly. In a spiritual sense, the kind of darkness that the Bible speaks of impairs a person morally. They cannot see, they don’t understand the effects of sin or even the root of it in the corruption of the human heart. Their entire way of thinking is warped by the darkness. Their understanding has been switched off when it comes to grasping moral issues related to his own life.

But Christians are the light, and our purpose is to make God known. If an unbeliever comes in contact with us, they ought to see in our lives the reflection of the character of God. They ought to hear from our lips truth and that which is good. We are to be proclaiming the truth of His salvation, Mark 4:24-25.

What is all this measuring about?

Jesus has just finished saying, ‘if anyone has ears to hear, let him hear,’ then He goes on and warns His disciples to take great care with how they listen. We have to remember that the Gospel is so precious, because the Gospel contains the message of eternal life and the message of eternal death, depending on how a person responds to it.

These measures are the kind of judgments people give of others, resulting always in their being judged in the same fashion, Matthew 7:1-2 / Luke 6:37-38.

If people listen to the Gospel carelessly, then they will find that they don’t have what it takes to remain faithful unto death. Revelation 2:10. If we take the Gospel lightly, even what little we have gained will be taken from us. But if we receive the whole Gospel and obey it, then we will gain more than we can imagine.

And so, Jesus is saying, the more the Christian studies God’s Word, the more they will learn as it’s revealed to them through His Word but those Christians who don’t study God’s Word, will not learn anything new and what they do already know will be taken away from them.

We see this in action when Jesus shares the Parable of the Talents, where the one-talent man buried his talent, instead of putting it to good use, then it was taken from him and given to the man who had ten talents. Matthew 25:19-28.

The Christian needs to shine whenever they find themselves, they need to continually grow, through studying God’s Word.

‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.’ 2 Peter 3:18